Volume 17, Number 02, Spring 1999


By Marc Stiegler

Reviewed by Chris Hibbert
May 1999

Earthweb is a new novel by Marc Stiegler, the author of Prometheus Award nominee David's Sling. The story has strong libertarian themes and is a fun read. The plot concerns an attack on Earth by aliens and our defense using ultramodern Internet-based and market-savvy techniques for collaboration and coordination.

The characters grow and learn from their experiences through the conflict. A petty hoodlum discovers that his talent for planning details of a heist can be more productively, safely, and lucratively applied to solving problems for legitimate customers. Another character uses a series of simulated battles (reminiscent of Ender's Game") to extend her talent for split-second decision-making to directing a team in combat.

The real strength of the book is in its depiction of the future of the Internet as a medium for business and collaboration. A little additional technology for tracking reputations and cementing deals on line, and the globally connected network will present a medium for much more information- rich deal-making. The story shows how people with a wide variety of expertise work together to solve problems posed in the middle of battle that today's technologies wouldn't even let them read about the next day. By focusing the problem solver's attention and allowing them to concentrate on relevant topics, the emergent knowledge properties of the market can be enhanced and magnified. Lots of action, great characters, and pure libertarian, to boot!

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